space-saving ideas for small plants

greentoe357January 7, 2014

I bought a big bunch of hoya cuttings (32 different species) some months ago - really too many for the space I have when/if they all start growing all over the place. None of them died to save me space - a nice problem to have for sure. All are rooting in clear plastic cups with holes drilled in the bottoms. They are rooting at very different speeds, some (5-7 cups at least) are very well rooted with roots visible all over the cup walls. These are probably ready to be moved out of my humidity container into the open apartment air where they could hopefully grow stems/leaves rather than roots under better (artificial) light but less humidity.

What kinds of ideas do you have to save space for relatively small pots?

I am thinking of two:

The one I like less is to repot several different hoyas into larger communal pots together. That will definitely save shelf space, but I am worried that stronger plants' roots will dominate slower growing hoyas, and also that untangling those roots later if/when I decide to separate the plants will be difficult.

The other is to keep species in individual cups, place each cup into another cup of the same size, also with drain holes, place several of these cups into a larger bowl-type container (sort of like pictured in the photo) and cover the gaps with more mix. Advantages are: (1) roots are contained to the same species, so no need to untangle and no domination by stronger root systems, (2) root development can be examined by lifting the inner cup then placing it back into the outer cup, (3) water easier as if it was one container, (3) save space, (4) save time if need to move one container rather than several, e.g. to the sink or shower or whatever, (5) easier to group plants into different groups for whatever reasons (size, cultural preferences etc.) - just swap the inner cups around.

My mix is very chunky, so over-watering these communal pots should not be a problem, I do not think. I think it WOULD be a concern with more water-retentive soils.

Any thoughts? Any better/other ideas? How do you save space while still growing many plants?

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rooftopbklyn

Square containers hold more media in less space than similarly sized round containers, and shelves also work wonders.

There are a number of kits around to create hanging shelves - designed specifically for plants in front of windows but you could probably use them anywhere.

Personally I dislike community pots - even if you get moisture need for everyone correctly met, the roots will become tangled.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:31AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Since I repot about all plants annually, I like communal pots. Tangled roots are not a problem, they get trimmed anyway, and in a chunky, porous soil, the plants/roots just fall apart from each other when unpotted. DH even agreed there's a lot more room in here this winter, even though the number of individual plants is WAY up, hundreds more plants, just socializing together in less pots, bigger pots.

Last winter I vowed, no more tiny pots and I'm really happy about it now. I'm spending much less time watering. I lost count of how many times I knocked little pots over last winter, trying to shuttle them to the sink and back to wherever they would fit, a lot of them were already sitting on the soil surface of larger pots anyway. The little succulent plants especially, that were in individual pots, flourished when I put them in 'mini gardens' though of course they're going to look/grow better when it's summer.

I've never had much luck with cuttings in their own pots. Since I started doing all propagations in pots with existing plants, I've lost very few attempts, mostly material that had already gotten too cold before attempting to save anyway.

Hanging pots are excellent for freeing up shelf/surface spaces, especially for dangling plants like Hoyas. When you buy a hanging basket of most dangling plants (and many uprights,) there's many more than 1 individual in there, to give a full, flowing look overall. Usually they do need to be repotted with some space between them though, to give each a chance to get some air and light, especially the upright plants.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:15AM
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michael1846(6)

Hanging pots is the best thing I can think of.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

In a desperate, selfish attempt to move around and restore some circulation to frozen extremities, I took some pics of current examples.

Put this pot together with some very recent new tiny plants, with the Peperomia in the back that needed a pot big/heavy enough to keep it upright.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

About a dozen Rex Begonia vine (Cissus discolor) cuttings, a Brugmansia cutting, 7-8 Tradescantias. Ready to put the whole thing in the ground in the spring, instant landscaping.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:48AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

I have always heard that cissus discolor was difficult to grow indoors.... that probally only stands for the frigid north, they cancelled school today due to the terrible ic situiation

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:58PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Lucky you!

I'm not trying to grow that in a pot indefinitely, just keep a few pieces alive to grow outside again next summer.

I quit adding the rest of the pics earlier because this site was stuck!

Until recently, this pot had just one Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri) and the creeping Callisia. I put some cuttings of moss roses in there in October. A few weeks ago, I took most of the EC apart into cuttings, put many back in this same pot, with some TC cuttings, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. It should look like a solid ball in a year or so, with various blooms at diff times. A ton of material here for taking more cuttings when stuff goes back outside.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

TC cuttings recently added to this pot that already has a little palm, some Tradescantia, Alternanthera.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:38PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey GT (Since I don't know your name).

Didn't we meet at the Hoya side recently?

Mentioning Hoyas, if you might EVER wish to trade Hoyas among the Hoya Forum folks, having mixed your Hoyas will make that difficult / less likely as they'll get completely tangled in each other (not just roots, but in short time, their vines as well).

We tend to only swap cuttings w/ IDs & while some Hoya IDs are readily visually identifiable, others are definitely not.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:36PM
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greentoe357

> Last winter I vowed, no more tiny pots...

I hear you, Purple. A few months ago when I was buying ~10 different 4" cacti/succulent pots from IKEA, I took the liberty to grab a 12-pot nursery tray where all the pots fit nicely. The C&S are now repotted into communal pots, but that tray is a space- and a time-saving idea, so I am holding on to it along with the pots that fit into it perfectly. In fact, I may need to use it on the hoya cuttings I am talking about.

> Hanging pots is the best thing I can think of.

I macrame'd myself a couple hanging pot holders already - of which one I already gifted to a friend, with a plant. I agree they save space and can look great in the home decor - even to my modern, opposite-of-country taste.

> Hey GT (Since I don't know your name).

Eugene but I love GreenToe, too. :-)

> Didn't we meet at the Hoya side recently?

Well, not in person, but virtually, yes, we did - and at other forums as well. And we both live in NYC!

> Mentioning Hoyas, if you might EVER wish to trade Hoyas among the Hoya Forum folks, having mixed your Hoyas will make that difficult / less likely as they'll get completely tangled in each other (not just roots, but in short time, their vines as well).

I did not think of that one, but it is a consideration for me.

> We tend to only swap cuttings w/ IDs & while some Hoya IDs are readily visually identifiable, others are definitely not.

Yes, I am careful to keep the tags, whether I ever trade or not.

> Square containers hold more media in less space than similarly sized round containers, and shelves also work wonders.

I do have shelves. And this reminded me - I have this long metal pot lying around. Looks like it will fit 9 hoya cups nicely. Can't wait to see how this works out.

Thanks, all! But of course keep 'em coming if you have other thoughts.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:32PM
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petrushka

i put small pots on top of soil of larger pots, around the perimeter. very often they grow roots into the bottom pot. i let them grow like that for some time - it's easier to water: the bottom pot won't dry out as fast and i do not put small plants on self-watering wicks, except for ficus.
i do this on the balcony too, except i cut off the bottom of the small pots and let all roots shoot down. that gives me larger soil volume in a crowded space.
then after a season you can trim the roots with a knife between pots and repot.
also they sell plastic vertical pockets that you can hang - sort of like for the door storage. you can pop small containers into them and hang them next to a window. water with caution ;).

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:46AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

â¢Posted by pirate_girl
We tend to only swap cuttings w/ IDs & while some Hoya IDs are readily visually identifiable, others are definitely not.

That concern popped into my mind too as soon as I saw the "community pot" idea.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:59PM
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greentoe357

> i put small pots on top of soil of larger pots

Another great idea I can use - I have a few large pots with soil surface largely empty.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:56AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

A discussion about this kind of fizzled out but has some pics.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:55AM
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greentoe357

Good thread, good pics, thanks for the link, Purple.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 6:17PM
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petrushka

just came across this post from last year using vertical shoe pockets - smbody actually is doing it! check it out
it's outdoors, but still might be a usable idea fro indoors too - perhaps for plants that prefer to be on the drier side.

Here is a link that might be useful: shoe pocket garden

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:41PM
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greentoe357

interesting idea, petrushka! I have some walls where this would look great.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:15AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey GT,

Thinking abt this for indoors? I'd be afraid it'd drip all over the floors, otherwise, it's a cool look!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:50AM
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asleep_in_the_garden

The easy answer of course is to put the containers in plastic bags and then slip them into the "holsters". :)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 9:01AM
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teisa(6)

Greentoe,

I wanted to mention Joni at SRQ has 4" hanging pots that work remarkably! They are the best quality little pots I have ever found. If I have a plant in a 3" pot, I set it down in 4" hanging pot (others potted straight in). They help me tremendously.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:40AM
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greentoe357

> Thinking abt this for indoors? I'd be afraid it'd drip all over the floors, otherwise, it's a cool look!

Yeah, the thought occurred to me. Also, the bottom pots will be overwatered and/or the top ones under-watered because the water will be dripping down. Really fast draining mix is a must. Plus, if you hang this on a wall, I suspect mold will develop because of constant moisture and zero air circulation on the wall. I won't go for the idea in practice, but I do like how it looks.

> The easy answer of course is to put the containers in plastic bags and then slip them into the "holsters". :)

Asleep, what about drainage? Blasphemy! :-)

> Joni at SRQ has 4" hanging pots that work remarkably!

Teisa, I don't see that she sells them. Does she? I'd love to find a supplier, a wholesale supplier in fact, as I'd buy a couple dozen probably. Small hanging pots are totally in my future, but for now I want the young plants on heat and so grouped is the best I think, so the mix does not dry out.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:01PM
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asleep_in_the_garden

"what about drainage? Blasphemy"

LOL drain them in the sink of course! Didn't think I'd just let 'em sit in water,did ya?

That would just be silly! :)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:17PM
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petrushka

well, of course it would be easier with succulents that don't need to be watered much. or else you take small pots out of a holder and water and drain them and then put them back up for a week (hopefully).
i think they also make this type of holders for 'green walls' - with permeable synthetic 'fabric' that drains and breathes. if pots are plastic and drained not in situ - should be ok as far as mold goes.
anyway, i always scheme on how to get vertical next to the window in winter to extract as much light as possible.
of course, metal wire cubes could work too for smallish plants - stacked up, they allow the most light to go thru to the bottom and aerate well.
or you can stack them checker-board fashion too - as a sort of green wall. saw it live - was a very nice look. or you can attach the cube or too to the wall and put a plants inside it - looks really neat.
office wire mesh baskets allow air thru - you can put them on a heat mat too i think. and easy to lift/carry around.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 5:19PM
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